How To Eat Healthy

by tinareale on February 23, 2012

As a lover of all things health and fitness related, I have received my share of comments and questions.

  • WHY do you like to work out?
  • Is it okay to do XYZ?
  • How can I get started strength training?

And sooooo many more. Of all the questions I receive, the following question seems both the simplest and most challenging to answer.

How do I eat better? or What do I need to do to eat healthily?

Now, there’s a loaded question. And I want to try my hand at tackling it.

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  1. Consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages in as close to their natural form as possible.
  2. Limit the intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt, and alcohol.
  3. Distribute protein, carbohydrate, and fat throughout the day and at each meal. Don’t fear fat. Don’t avoid carbohydrates. Don’t forget about protein. Have a well rounded variety and meal plan. They all have a purpose in our diets.
  4. Choose whole grains and fresh produce over refined grains and simple sugars.
  5. Get ample fiber – approximately 25 grams per day.
  6. Schedule meals at regular intervals throughout the day. This helps control hunger, minimize blood sugar fluctuations, and increase energy levels throughout the day.
  7. Drink a lot of water (8 to 12 cups/day). Minimize drinks that contain extra calories and sugars.
  8. Avoid highly processed foods and foods with minimal nutritional value. These often do little to provide satiety, can increase blood sugar fluctuations, and spark additional cravings.
  9. Don’t leave yourself feeling deprived. Experiment to find healthy options you enjoy and incorporate those foods often. Feel free to indulge on occasion. The key is in consistent, overall healthy eating habits and calorie control. Shoot for a balance of 80 % natural, wholesome foods and 20 % other items. Just make sure to focus on things you love for those treats! That way you can feel satisfied.
  10. If you eat more than anticipated at a meal, don’t adopt the “all or nothing” attitude. You can make changes at your next meal. You didn’t blow it. An off meal or day here or there will not ruin your chances at achieving your goals. Pick up normal, balanced eating habits as soon as possible. Try not to restrict or do extra exercise to “make up for it” either. Get back in the normal groove and learn from the experience.
  11. Familiarize yourself with serving sizes and the calories you consume. Also, know the ingredients in the products you consume.
  12. Ensure you are eating enough for your activity level. Eating too little can hinder progress as well, possibly slowing your metabolism, leading to overeating, decreasing energy for workouts, etc. Keep in mind the post workout window of opportunity. Consume a combination of protein and carbohydrates within 90 minutes of a workout to improve recovery. Fuel yourself!

Please note that I am not a registered dietician or certified nutritionist. The above suggestions are all based on personal experience and study. They are very general in nature. Always consult your own doctor with questions about your personal health and nutrition.

What tips or suggestions would you give someone wanting advice on healthy eating?

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{ 62 comments }

1 Jamie @ Don't Forget the Cinnamon February 23, 2012 at 7:10 am

My #1 piece of advice is to cook for yourself/pack your lunch and snacks for the day!

2 tinareale February 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Very true! So much better knowing what you are putting into your body.

3 chelsey @ clean eating chelsey February 23, 2012 at 7:14 am

Great tips! And I always laugh at the fiber one because I’m pretty sure I get like double the amount of fiber I should every day. Whoops!

4 tinareale February 23, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Haha! Same here!

5 Lauren @ What Lauren Likes February 23, 2012 at 7:14 am

Great tips!! :)

6 Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean February 23, 2012 at 7:31 am

great tips! especially not adopting the all or nothing attitude!

7 Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile February 23, 2012 at 7:32 am

Awesome tips! I definitely believe in not depriving yourself because many people think just don’t eat as much and then find themselves starving and say F this! lol

8 Khushboo February 23, 2012 at 7:35 am

Great tips! I especially want to emphasize on avoiding the ‘all or nothing’ approach! Each meal is another opportunity to improve your health…if you mess up one meal, no biggie: dust yourself off and do better next time!

9 Kinley @ Better Off Barefoot February 23, 2012 at 7:45 am

Love the one about eating ENOUGH! I didn’t realize how much marathon training would change my needs and I just kept eating my normal level of food… fast forward two weeks and I was so burnt out and depressed it was crazy. Funny how eating a bit more each day has worked wonders!

10 Toni@runninglovingliving February 23, 2012 at 7:48 am

Great tips!! I like number 12 but ou also have to keep the calories in check when training, it is super easy to overeat!

11 Lauren February 23, 2012 at 7:51 am

As always, amazing tips! I get asked this quite often too and I think the best advice I can give anyone is to really pay attention to their bodies. We are all so different and our bodies are going to need different fuel so it’s important to know what YOU need and not what the rest of the world is particularly doing.

12 Tara Burner February 23, 2012 at 7:51 am

great tips Tina!

13 Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) February 23, 2012 at 7:54 am

Planning is a HUGE part of eating healthy! You have to be prepared or you will go for the junk that’s quick! Oh and I realize now, so many women don’t eat enough to fuel themselves! They wonder why they are so warn out and can’t lose weight. Their bodies are holding on to whatever they can for dear life. Great post Tina!

14 Heather (Heather's Dish) February 23, 2012 at 8:07 am

i think the last point is so important…just like we need to make sure we’re not eating too much there’s a fine line between eating too little for what we do…and fueling is essential to taking care of ourselves!

15 Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef February 23, 2012 at 8:17 am

great tips! i would also add to make your own food as much as possible. that way you know what goes into it, and that also allows you to have treats that are (a little less) guilt free. :)

16 Lee February 23, 2012 at 8:26 am

I agree with all of them. Familiarizing yourself with the nutritional value of certain foods is a big one. I think that so many people think they are eating healthy (a big salad with dressing, for example) but really it’s not so great.

17 tinareale February 23, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Yep. I know I used to do that all the time.

18 Cheryl @ Happy is the new healthy February 23, 2012 at 8:29 am

Pretty awesome advice! Your tips work together–when you eat more whole grains and produce, you’ll get the fibre, etc. I would add in there to focus on getting the good things in and not to worry so much about the bad things–which is what you did, without saying it (i.e. there wasn’t much “avoid …. ” at all!)–just because I think changing from a place of wanting to do better is a healthier approach than taking a restrictive, don’t do this anymore kind of approach.
You rock!

19 Sue @ Sue In Training February 23, 2012 at 8:42 am

I love your short list! My favorite tip is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables every day. They are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, while being low in calories.
One tip I’d like to add: Prepare your meals yourself and pack lunch and snacks as often as possible, to avoid take-out and the office cookie jar or vending machines.

20 Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table February 23, 2012 at 8:42 am

People are always asking me how to lose weight and the biggest thing I tell them is to quit the sugar. It’s amazing how much you can eat in a day without even knowing it.

The cleanse I’ve been doing has also emphasized the other tip I give – planning is key! If you have healthy snacks on hand, you won’t panic or get too hungry and binge on unhealthy processed items.

21 Meg February 23, 2012 at 8:51 am

great tips :) I think drinking enough water is a HUGE one :) also eating whole grains!!!!!!! I really got my parents on the whole grain kick and they won’t eat white stuff anymore ;)

22 Fiona @ Get Fit Fiona February 23, 2012 at 9:16 am

I get so stuck in the all or nothing thinking. If I’ve eaten a couple cookies I figure I might as well eat some Twizzlers later since I’ve already messed up. I need to stop thinking like that.

23 Annette@EnjoyYourHealthyLife February 23, 2012 at 9:22 am

Great tips! I pretty much do ‘em all…and it works for me too to cook mostly at home, eat often throughout the day, and to have a filling b-fast!

24 Caroline February 23, 2012 at 9:22 am

To help stay away from processed foods, try to buy the bulk of your groceries from the perimeters of the store – stay out of the center aisles!

25 tinareale February 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm

That’s a great one!

26 Michelle February 23, 2012 at 9:25 am

Great post Tina! It seems to common sense to me – but I know that’s not the case.

I love #10. I know far too many people who indulge and then starve themselves! Your body doesn’t like that. Everything in moderation is SOOOO key :)

27 Alayna @ Thyme Bombe February 23, 2012 at 9:35 am

When I first started eating healthy, I hated it. The food just tasted bland to me and I found myself craving bread and sugar all the time. But after about a month, I started noticing that the things I was eating that had tasted bland before were starting to taste good. I could taste the nuttiness in unsweetened oatmeal and apples were as sweet as a dessert. So my advice is always to just stick with it. If someone hasn’t ever eaten a great deal of healthy food before it may taste disappointing compared to all the flavor-injected junk they’ve been eating, but over time your body will adjust and you will grow to truly enjoy healthy food. I can’t even dream of going back to the way I used to eat, it all sounds so gross now!

28 tinareale February 23, 2012 at 2:20 pm

That’s a great point! I was the same way. It does take some adjusting but eventually you will feel so good, the other old habits won’t be as appealing.

29 Michelle @ Lipstick and Lunges February 23, 2012 at 9:36 am

Great tips! I always try to keep healthy snacks with me in case I hit a hunger wall and can’t make a meal.
— Michelle

30 Jess February 23, 2012 at 9:38 am

My biggest words of advice are to eat whole and REAL foods whenever possible – avoid the processed stuff (100 cal packs, etc.) and opt for real yummy goodness. I also tell friends, relatives, etc. to try to pair protein with your snacks – so rather than just having an apple, pair that with a string cheese or a tablespoon of peanut butter or grab a yogurt vs. that 100 cal pack. It’ll stick with you MUCH longer and you’ll avoid those late-afternoon munchies much better that way.

31 Anna @ On Anna's Plate February 23, 2012 at 10:01 am

Great tips– I love the one about not taking on an “all or nothing” attitude. Healthy eating for me happens probably about 90-85 percent of the time– and that’s what keeps me sane!

32 natalie @ southern fit foodie February 23, 2012 at 10:04 am

Great advice! Some tips I give to my clients are to always be aware of what you are putting in your body. Just because it seems/sounds/appears/looks healthy doesn’t mean that it is. Stay away from processed and packaged foods. If you want to see where you can improve, journal your food for a week (or even just a few days). You can even enter everything quickly and easily on one of the many apps they have for this purpose.

33 STUFT Mama February 23, 2012 at 10:30 am

Oh Tina- the best tips! Number 8 and 10 are KEY!!!!!! :) You are getting good with your “pinable” pics for you tips. :)

34 tinareale February 23, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Why thank you! :)

35 Jaki (Slim Down U) February 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

Great tips. Your tips are about making it a healthy lifestyle and not just another diet. The only way to lose weight and keep it off is by making it a lifestyle and it is how I lost 125 pounds and am keeping it off. It’s really about focusing on your health. :)

36 Carol @ Lucky Zucca February 23, 2012 at 11:28 am

I think you’ve done a great job with this list, Tina!! I think one really important thing is to be open to trying new things. That way you can figure out what healthy foods you really enjoy and if you like them, it will be easier to incorporate them in your diet! :)

37 Parita @ myinnershakti February 23, 2012 at 11:31 am

I think the “not fearing fat” tip is a great one because I think most people have a misconstrued idea about healthy fats and what they actually do to and for your body. I should know – I used to be one of those people! :)

Thanks for sharing…love these simple tips. Healthy eating isn’t rocket science, and I wish more people understood that!

38 Jess @ Blonde Ponytail February 23, 2012 at 11:58 am

Great great great tips Tina! I’m pinning!

39 Tiff February 23, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Great tips! I think planning ahead is key, whether your looking at a menu online before heading out to the restaurant (choosing what to order when your starving is hard) or prepping your meals for the week.

40 Yellow Haired Girl February 23, 2012 at 12:03 pm

These are great!!! I especially love the “all or nothing” one…so important to keep in mind…

41 Lindsay @ In Sweetness and In Health February 23, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Awesome tips! I love the one about not adopting an all or nothing attitude. I used to do that- where I would eat something “bad” and then just say oh well, I already blew it so I may as well keep eating bad the rest of the day. That’s not good to do!

42 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm

A lot of these tips are ones that I need to follow! I’ve been having the problem of under-eating and thus feeling deprived, leading to binge eating. Although I’m binge eating “healthy foods” the mentality and the feeling is all the same. I’m trying to hard to just listen to my body and include healthy fats, but I think it’s going to take a while, and a lot of trial and error, for me to get the hang of this!

43 Kelly @ Laughter, Strength, and Food February 23, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Great tips! My big tip to any of my students that ask is to start small. I know many people want to make a drastic change overnight and cut everything that is bad from their diet in one day! I tell them to gradually add more veggies into dinners/lunches, try whole-wheat/grains a dish at a time, etc…making a huge change all at once can be overhelming and the frustration can lead to just falling back into unhealthy eating.

44 tinareale February 23, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Great point! It has to be small changes that add up over time and building upon that. I whole heartedly agree.

45 Rach February 23, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Definitely some great tips! I struggle the most with #10 because once I feel like I have fallen off the wagon, I just continue to let myself roll with the unhealthy things. It’s a goal of mine to change this by noticing when I’m doing it and trying to stop the actions before they go too far.

46 Lauren @ Oatmeal after Spinning February 23, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Great tips!! The biggest thing that I’m trying to focus on (always) is being mindful. I try to think about how my body and my mind will feel AFTER I eat something- not just while I’m eating it.
The other thing that really helps me is to PLAN AHEAD. The extra time is totally worth it!

47 janetha February 23, 2012 at 1:15 pm

These are some great tips! XOXO

48 jobo February 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm

This is an awesome list, Tina! One thing I have learned is that you can plan for treats once in awhile, whether that’s a (REAL!) cookie or a glass of wine, planning ahead for meals, especially when eating out, really helps stick to a healthy eating regime!

49 Dena @ 40 Fit in the Mitt February 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Great tips! I like #3, I have so many friends that are afraid of Olive Oil and Avocados.

50 Nicole February 23, 2012 at 5:05 pm

great post Tina! I love that we are on the same page :) love ALL your tips..especially the fiber since it goes with my post today!

51 Carissa @Fit2Flex February 23, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Wonderful tips and a great post!!!

I’m a huge advocate of people getting enough fiber! It makes a world of difference!

52 Kristy February 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm

#10 is so important. i tend to turn a bad snack choice mid-afternoon into a free for all at dinner and after dinner. such a bad habit to get into!

53 Jules February 24, 2012 at 8:24 am

My philosophy is sooo similar! For me hydration and eating plenty of (good) fats and protein is key to avoiding temptations. If my body feels deprived of those things, I lose willpower and start wanting unhealthy foods. And once I eat something that contains sugar, it’s really hard to stop – especially desserts! Great tips :-)

54 Courtney February 25, 2012 at 9:01 am

Loved this post, Tina! Such great tips!

55 Jenna@FitForLife February 27, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Wow great tips! Thank you so much for sharing, I really need them. I try so hard to eat healthy but its really hard as a college student (campus food options don’t exactly promote a healthy diet). Other than my morning coffee, I drink mostly just water and I can’t even tell you how much it helps! I’ll do my best to stick with these tips.

56 Kelly@Nutrition-Spotlight February 27, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Your tip about not adopting the “all or nothing” rule I think is a vital one to keep in mind. Especially for people who are trying to get on, or stay on, the right track it is imperative they don’t think this way. If you happen to give in to that chip craving at lunch, don’t throw the entire day away by thinking “well, I screwed up at this meal, no sense in sticking to a healthy dinner if I’ve already undone my health goals for the day.” People who wish to get healthier need to keep in mind it is something they will constantly have to work and get better at.

57 Reed July 5, 2012 at 12:55 am

I am trying to recover from binge eating and you mentioned familiarizing yourself with the amount of calories you consume. Does this mean I should start counting calories again?

58 tinareale July 5, 2012 at 6:58 am

While trying to recover from binge eating, I suggest focusing more on hunger cues and avoiding calorie counting. I personally don’t count calories closely even though my last true binge was almost 3 years ago. It can be a triggering thing for me. So, it’s a personal decision, but I personally believe focusing on serving sizes/portions and staying attuned to hunger levels and making sure you’re eating enough to be satisfied is a big help. Not so much calorie counting over seeking balanced nutrition that satisfies. Hope that helps and I wish you all the best in your recovery. Take it day by day.

59 Edmund P. March 26, 2013 at 4:09 am

Hi Tina,

Great list of healthy eating tips. My personal advice would be to eat at home instead of dining out since you can control what you put into your food.

Edmund

60 George June 24, 2013 at 4:01 pm

This is a great list! I think the best tip is ‘Don’t leave yourself feeling deprived’. The hardest part about diets is feeling like you’re losing some of your favorite foods! Indulgence isn’t a bad thing at all, as long as it’s done sparingly.

61 Judy Levine August 20, 2013 at 4:11 pm

Great tips! I especially like #3. Too many diets these days tell us to focus on avoiding certain food groups which never leave you feeling satisfied.

62 Rory Lazear December 9, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Love you ideas….

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